Saturday, December 31, 2011


It is my 32nd Birthday today. It is sunny and warming up and I am taking the family ice skating.
I just didn't plan on dealing with an infestation on my birthday. Against all odds, our house is having a pest control problem... with bears.
Let me show you what I woke up to on my front lawn:

Don't worry.  They appear very tame and docile.

So would the owner of sixteen plastic bears please give yourself a big hug and a pat on the back for making my day?  Thank you.
I love you, too.
Whoever you are.
p.s. This is one stylin' bear!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Adventures of Raccoony

I don't know a lot about Raccoony's past. He could be concealing secret government files or hiding a wife and kids somewhere. He didn't sneak into our lives until he smuggled his way into the Cowgirl's heart at a garage sale. 
Oh, he milked it! Scruffy, skinny neck, disheveled whiskers, plaintive eyes. She fell for him hook, line and sinker. So for a whopping quarter he was given a new identity (Raccoony the raccoon) and a new safehouse. He had a good thing going here.
Until the day the Dancer took him on a shopping trip with mom. Lots of smiles, inside jokes. They were living it up inside Marshalls. But when we were halfway home,
Mommy, where's raccoony?
I tried to put it as nicely as possible that Raccoony ran away to a better home, because it was one of those days when I just was not turning around for a twenty five cent, scruffy stuffed animal.

Two months later our family was back at Marshalls to pick out a birthday present. The Cowgirl was rummaging through the stuffed animal display and came running up to me and said, "Mommy, doesn't this look like Raccoony?"
I looked down at the floppy animal with a price tag pierced through his scruffy ear for 14.99!!
It looked so much like Raccoony that there was no mistaking that it was Raccoony.
Apparently a pretty dapper Raccoony, because he was demanding a pretty steep price.

I went to the service desk, explained our strange predicament and thirty seconds later-

All is right with the world.

Lucky little Raccoon. Lucky little girl. Bemused Tapper.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Take Two!!

Remember the traumatic first-ever school picture fiasco?

Are you refreshed now?
Whenever I took a photo for a month I would tell the Dancer to smile and she would give me a strained grimace and say, "I am not going to pee."
And in the quiet mother-daughter moments she would often look up and say, "Mommy, do you remember when I took my picture..."

Thank goodness for retakes.
A little reminder that sometimes we don't get it right the first time.
But that doesn't mean we don't get it right.

So here is proof that the second time can be the charm.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

It's about discovery

Tapper in her "laboratory"

It's just one loooong adventure, isn't it?
With millions of discoveries. I'm a regular Marie Curie over here making breakthrough after breakthrough (sans the radiation).

Because the quest is fraught with peril (and snot, and crayons on the refrigerator and lots of tummy-aches) I will not keep any of my discoveries to myself, but share them happily.

A few of the thousands of things I was learning while I neglected this blog:

1. Calling it "tippy toe" tag doesn't make it any quieter or calmer. I had to declare the linen closet an emergency base while I caught my breath. And the artist had to check on what was shaking the house down two stories above him. I seriously thought if we stayed on our tippy toes it would be more manageable. On the upside, awesome work out for my calves.

2. It doesn't matter if they can taste the spinach or not- it's the existence of spinach that is the problem.

3. Fruity pebbles (or any flavor pebbles, for that matter) will harden to the consistency of concrete by lunch time if you don't rinse out the bowl. Upside, I know how to build a load- bearing wall out of cereal if I'm ever in a pinch.

And this one is off the record, but it doesn't matter if your four year old has a head that smells like heaven dust and angel wings (Do you inhale your kids' heads, too?); her smelly feet are just shy of requiring hazmat to remove her shoes. Our little princess can clear a room at the first sound of velcro unfastening.

So mothers, if you uncover any fascinating facts, make sure you share. Remember, we're all in this together!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Thank you notes

Dear Artist,
Happy Birthday! Enjoy the next six weeks. I love it when I am your younger woman and I only get it for a few fun weeks a year.
I love it when your birthday rolls around because there is nothing I would rather celebrate than you. You are just one jolly good fellow.
If I could sum up your life in one sentence I would say "to know him is to love him." I sure do!
You make me laugh every day. Sometimes when I am in a room I just start snickering to myself remembering what you said three days ago.
You are my favorite part of the day. When I put those rascals to bed all I want is to curl up under your arm and let the world dissolve. No one but me and you.
In the middle of Lowes yesterday I was missing you. It might have been that new steel, new paint, freshly cut wood smell that reminds me of you but I just stood there and thought how much I would love it if I could look up and see your smiling face coming down the hardware aisle.
And ten daydream bonus points if you had grabbed my face and kissed me slow right in front of the wrench gift sets.
Yeah, who knew? I'm surprised, too.
I will never get used to you.
I will never outgrow that seventeen year old crazy in love can't get enough of you feeling.
I guess young love just never, never gets old.
Even when we do. (Yikes! I found my first grey hair this week!)
I know you're blushing now and thinking, "Oh brother, Tapper, people will read this."
You are so cute when you're modest. You have taught me so many wonderful things in the past thirteen years. And one of them is discretion. I'm seriously better now, don't you think?
Ten years ago I would have gushed a lot more.
But no one would blame me. I've got a lot to gush about.
I've got you.
Lucky, lucky me.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Chinese take out and confessions

Don't be fooled by the cuteness . . .

We had really good Chinese take out for dinner tonight. Mine was a little too salty to eat, however.
Probably due to the copious amount of tears I was shedding on it.
Just don't give me bad news right before dinner because it totally wrecks food.
And I like food.

So what's the emergency this time, you ask?
What's so terrible, Tapper?
I'll tell ya.
I am officially that mother.
I was blissfully unaware that I was that mother a few hours ago.

The Dancer came home and told me that little blonde girl was mean to her today.
And I asked what little blonde girl did.
And the Dancer told me that little blonde girl said she hated her.
Insert mommy gasp, please.

So I sat at my computer and penned a very judicious inquiry letter to the teacher.

Dear wonderful teacher,
The Dancer came home worried today. I know that things can get lost in translation when children are four, but she is under the impression that little blonde girl said she hated her.
I am very concerned. Please let me know if you know anything about the situation.

Or thereabouts. You get the jist.
Then I got the email reply.

Dear Tapper, (AKA that mother)
I am unaware that little blonde girl said anything of the sort. They were in separate groups all day. However, while we are communicating, we had to talk to the Dancer about how she treats her friends today. She would not let a friend pass by her even when he said excuse me. She uncrossed her legs and got off her mat three times at circle time. We are discussing how to be kind and loving.
Thank you for communicating.
Wonderful Teacher

Sniffle sniffle. Good bye teryaki and honey-seared chicken. Hello Kleenex.
My child is that kid! They had to discuss how to be kind and loving!!!
Quick side note to teacher: I haven't stopped discussing being kind and loving since they cut the umbilical cord. This is not a neglected subject in my home.
But apparently it is not a successful subject in my home.
I can live with the poor girl forgetting to sit criss cross apple sauce (that is the stupidest thing. Can't we just call it Indian Style like we used to?) but being mean... really? Really?

Seeing the teacher tomorrow should be barrels and barrels of fun.
I think home school just sounded good to me for the first time ever.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Confessions! Let it go.

Today's question is what do you know you have to do, but just can't do?

I'm just going to pick one thing because this could be a loooong list.

I need to let it go.
I need to stop feeling like I have to protect people who don't need protecting.
All my life I've had a keen (razor-sharp) sense of "fairness" and "justice".
I've had a Tigress attitude toward anyone trying to hurt someone I love.
I can forgive anything done to me, but I will fight to the death for someone I love.
And when somebody hurts someone I love, it eats me.
I hate them.
My toes curl and blood pressure goes up and I am ready to fight.
If somebody insulted me, I would cry, stumble, feel embarrassed and retreat.
If somebody insulted my friend or family member I turn into an amazon woman.
I am a warrior who takes no prisoners. Seriously, you want me on your side. :)

And long after the person who was hurt or insulted is feeling fine, I am still boiling.
I am staring at the ceiling late at night.
I am wondering what I can do to make things right.
And there's the rub.
I can't make it right. I can't fix those wrongs. No matter how I twist my brain or pool my resources I cannot change how one human being treats another.
And I have to learn to love the people I love, without hating the people who hurt them.
I have to learn to be a safe place where they can retreat instead of a warrior on the hunt.
And that is really hard.

Because when you love, as any mother knows, you feel the pain of the person you love more than they do. You multiply it. You enhance it. You refine it. You magnify it.
Until discomfort is agony, and sadness is anguish. And it doesn't really help anyone.
So I have to learn to let people hurt a little. Without hating a lot. Without fighting the world.
I have to let the pain go.
And not the person.
But when they are all tied up together, it is a hard skill to master.

When I lay my burdens of revenge and indignation and anger at the feet of the Lord, I have to learn to leave them there.
Because I have a habit of showing him all my smelly garbage, and then packing it back up and taking it with me.
And He keeps raising His eyebrows and waiting for me to figure it out.
I'm so grateful He is patient.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Three minutes with the Dancer

Today is dance class day.
For the last half hour the Dancer has been hanging on me in various stages of collapse saying, "Is it time to go yet? I want to go. Can we go now?"
I even bought her a cartoon about patience.
Can you believe that didn't work? I want my money back.
The following is approximately 57 seconds with the Dancer:

Look what I can do...
Wanna see me run?
Is it time to go now?
I'll put my shoes on.
Did I mess up my hair?

Let's go. Can we go? I want to go.
Are these on the right feet?

And I spared you the other 28 minutes and three seconds. Just loop this seven hundred times, okay? Because that's what it felt like.

I would write more, but I have to go. We are almost not early for dance class...

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Where have you been, Tapper?!

I totally dropped the ball and haven't written in weeks.

I am so sorry.

I am still alive. I am not facing any major crisis. (Halloween doesn't count as a crisis, does it? Because I think putting together costumes and being invited to 6 separate halloween parties might be somewhere in the crisis spectrum. What a crazy two weeks I've been living!)
The truth is that I don't want to tell you why I haven't been writing because it sounds really stupid.
But that is nothing new on this blog, is it?

All of my writing energy has been going elsewhere. A few weeks ago I picked up a manuscript for a book that I gave up on a year ago. I literally dusted it off and thought, Okay, girl. Let's do this. Good, bad or ugly. We will whip this story into shape. You are not going to abandon this project.

Somewhere between halloween parties and endless stops at stores to get one more thing for a costume or a class party or a halloween craft, I've been typing. And reading and typing. And pulling my hair and chewing up my lips and typing.
And I finally, finally, finished.
Don't ask me why I wracked up over 46,000 minutes of editing. (did you know that microsoft word keeps track of how long you spend on a document? I found it on accident when I was doing word count and I almost passed out) Don't ask me why I've written and re-written a story.

I don't really know. I wanted to see if I could do it. I wanted to present this book to the cowgirl when she turned sixteen. I kept thinking of a better way to say something and I had to try.

There is no financial pay off. There is no reclaiming those hours or days.
I did it because these three people believe I have something to say.

And when I look at those faces, and know they are proud of me for putting my shoulder to the wheel and doing my best, I am compensated.

The artist took some family pictures this month and I will post my favorites, just so you know we are really still here. Thanks for being patient with me.

Friday, September 23, 2011

As promised...

The Dancer's first year of preschool, Part II:
I told you I would confess the truths behind picture day.
True to my word- here goes:

I want to show you a school picture of the Dancer.
She picked out a vintage-y fall dress and we did two inches of braided pigtails.
There were ribbons. There was cuteness.
She was all ready for her big moment to say "cheese."
First school pictures are a big deal and I want to show you.

But I can't.

Because she never got her picture taken.
(Yes, I remembered to pay for them. Seriously, some of you have no faith in me at all. You know me too well.) This time it really wasn't me.

She stood up, and just as they said the magic words "cheese", her little brain heard the command, "PEE!"

And like the obedient soul that she is, she did.

Audience, outfit, big moment, and all.

That's a keeper....

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I might have forgot to mention...

We are more than a month into the school year and I need to report on the Dancer's first foray into the world of education. So, if you are so inclined, rewind five weeks and I will start at the beginning.

The First Day of School.

The smell of sharpened pencils and and new tennis shoes in the air.
We were off to a great start.
We crimped the hair (hard to do with three inches of hair, by the by) and got the outfit.

She picked out her most important accessory- the tacky backpack. (the tackier the better, Moms)
We took the first day of school pictures on the porch.

She was literally doing the first day of school boogie dance in all of her precious excitement.

Then mommy took her to school. Mommy walked her to her classroom.
Mommy was very surprised we were the first ones there.
The teacher was surprised we were there, too.
The teacher very kindly said, "School starts tomorrow."

Wow, Tapper.
Even for you- really? Really??!

When I managed to stop laughing and the Dancer managed to stop crying, I announced it a dress rehearsal and we showed up the next day for the big performance.

(First day of school- Take Two)

Lets all take a moment and have a guess at who they were talking about in the teacher's lounge that day....
(please insert my bemused face here)
I bet they were really hopeful when they saw my name signed up for room parent. I bet that sweet teacher is sweating bullets. Please let her have the class party on the right day... please let her have the class party on the right day.... I can hear her  thoughts all the way from my desk.

And that is how we roll Tapper-style.
Tune in tomorrow to find out how we do Picture Day around here. (Or hint- try to do picture day, but don't really.)
The fun just never stops.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Birthdays and Big Sisters

Today is a special day. Four years ago we welcomed the Dancer to our home and our family and our hearts forever. So we celebrated this weekend with her first ever "friend" party. I worried over this one. Her friends are three and four.

Think about this.

Three and four.

So that little lobe in my brain that reserves brilliant ideas for moments of dire need kicked into overdrive and I had a real thunderbolt of inspiration. We had a big sis/little sis party. All the three and four year old girls brought their big sisters along to help them, play with them and keep them from panicking.
Because there might be frosting they don't like.
Or a balloon the wrong color.
Serious stuff that only a big sister can handle.

And it worked. The princesses all arrived at ten in the morning and thanks to the big sisters the party was a complete ruffly, pink success!

We did the cake thing, of course. The Dancer picked her own cake, and we served them with ice cream cones. (umm, sorry for the shameless kitchen picture in the middle of the party fun, but seriously, doesn't this look like a pretty little girl party kitchen?)

And instead of party games that incite screaming (please take a moment to remember once more- three and four!) we did crafts while I played Disney princess songs. I have honestly never seen twelve little girls so calm or quiet. I guess Jasmine put them into a mini coma, but I was totally good with that.
We made each girl's initials out of butterflies on a painted canvas and royal pony scepters. (Sometimes you just work around whatever is on sale at Michaels and make it fit, right?)

A few minutes of playtime and a few gift bags later, it was all over.
In the end, the Dancer was very happy, my home was still intact when the last guest left and for a woman who doesn't do parties, I think I faked it okay once again.

Happy Birthday, Dancer. You are the wish I made that keeps coming true!

Monday, September 12, 2011

10 years after 9/11

Yesterday was hard.
Yesterday was surreal.
Yesterday was sacred.
Yesterday was a beautiful clear day so we took our girls to feed ducks before church and for a moonlit walk before bed.
And my head couldn't make sense of such beautiful, peaceful moments on the Sabbath day next to the desperate pictures of suffering on the television.
And after 10 years I still can't believe my own eyes when I watch the towers fall.
I still can't stop crying.
The Artist and I watched the footage in silence after we put the girls in bed.
We held on tight to each other, just like we did that horrible day.

I was in college that day. My last semester. My hardest classes. I had a Spanish test at 10 o'clock. I almost hit my teacher when she said we still had to take it. I threw down my answers angrily and stormed from class, as if getting back to the television would somehow make things better. I went to my history class and put my head on my arms and wept. Not cried. Not dripped. Wept. I never looked up. I remember a hand on my shoulder from a class mate and how he slipped a tissue into my hand and patted my back. My teacher spoke a few words, but ancient Chinese history just didn't seem important anymore. We all left.
Down in the lobby we watched the televisions as the pentagon smoked and people ran from the capital building. One boy threw down his back pack and punched the marble column.
I walked home, not even sure I was breathing. Not caring if I kept breathing. And I walked into the Artist's arms and cried all day. Yelled and paced and screamed at the television.
We never slept that night. I was too scared I would miss a rescue. I needed to see someone else alive. They never came out alive. I tried to swap. I told God I would lay down dead if he would bring just one more person out alive.
It wasn't my swap to make. That wasn't my privilege.
And now, all these years later, I count that day as one of the most important and formative days of my life. Somewhere in that chaos, smoke and rubble I learned how to love a stranger. Not abstractly, but in a very personal way. And as ashamed as I am that it took a tragedy of that magnitude to learn that lesson, I will forever be grateful for the examples of brotherly love that changed my heart forever.
I lost no one.
I've never been to New York.
I didn't even know anything about the World Trade Centers on September 10th.
But I still count it one of the largest trial of my life because even though it didn't happen to me,
it really did.
I didn't breath the dust, but I was choking.
It didn't cut my flesh, but my heart was bleeding.
It didn't take my family, but it made them seem so fragile.
I didn't hold up a missing person flyer, but I was searching for something lost.
I didn't pick up the rubble and clean the mess, but I had to sort through the debris of anger and fear.
We all fell on 9/11.
We all had to learn to stand again.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Wave the white flag of surrender

I'm having a moment over here.

And I just want to say 4 little words:

Dear Spandex,
You win.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Big Kitchen Reveal!

So it is finally that time.
We have excavated the kitchen out from under layers of dust and debris and it is now fit for
human viewing.

But first, please take a little journey back to this spring when it looked like this:

It wasn't hideous...

Actually, no comment.
I cannot tell blog lies so I will say nothing at all.

But it just didn't give any evidence that we lived here. We hadn't made our mark yet.

And now, all these months later, I think this feels a lot more like our home:

And just for old time's sake, let's take a peek at the journey getting here. (unfortunately no one snapped a picture of me going vampire-bat crazy, but you can imagine.)
And for all that work, and all those hard decisions, and all that $$$, really, it's still a kitchen.
I love it. I think it's beautiful. I think it feels personal.
But still mostly just a kitchen.
It didn't change my life- just the color of a room.
It didn't make me a better person- it just made me a person who knows how to remodel a kitchen.
It didn't make me a happier person.
Okay, well, maybe just a smidge happier.
Because pretty things make me happier.
But just a smidge.
But in the end, our stuff just isn't important.
It might be pretty.
But it will never be important.
And that's the way it should be.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Thursday Thank You Notes

Dear Cotton Growers of America,

Thank you for learning how to spin spandex and cotton together to make it super stretchy. And then thank you for figuring out to make it very lightweight and thin.

You will keep me thin (ish) forever because I now have a real reason to keep working out.

When I pack on a few extra pounds of flub and flab I have a two step program to help motivate me to lace up my jogging shoes.

1. Try on a super thin, super stretchy cotton/spandex T-shirt.

2. Look in the mirror.

So even though cotton is not an edible crop, I think your harvest is going to help a lot of people lose weight.

My jogging shoes thank you.
The rest of me sort of totally hates you.
But thanks anyway.


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tuesday Tutorial- Do It Tapper Style

Dear Click and Clack,
Take notes. This is how we deal with car trouble Tapper-style.

Short of life and death health problems and those super sticky family dramas is there anything more stressful than a car that breaks down?
Because it never picks that one day a month when my hair is shiny and my skin is clear and my skinny (that's a relative term) jeans fit.

No. Cars are alive.

Alive enough to sense when we are nearing a mental overload and they save their real whoppers for the moments when we are teetering on the edge.
Days when our children act like this in a store when all we needed to do was buy safety pins.
I know it looks like the Dancer just got done dancing. What really happened was I lost the you-can't-wear-your-tutu-to-the-store fight.
Days when it is melt-your-skin-off hot outside and the little ones just have to get to a party because there is a face painter coming.

That's when you get into your fancy hybrid car (please tell me that you know I'm not serious about my car being fancy) with it's fancy hybrid system screen and you see everything lit up like a fancy Christmas tree.
I mean, this car did everything short of announcing that it would blow up momentarily.
This is how I, as a woman, interpret this screen.

P.S. Your main engine is about to explode!

Kaboom! So do you put the crazy children in the exploding car to get them to the face painter?
Or, do you sit in the 97 degree parking lot and cry?

Well, if you do it Tapper style you strap them in, mutter a plea for mercy in case any traffic angels are within earshot and go see the face painter.

Who says women are the weaker sex?